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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wedding Videos People Will Actually Watch Using A Remotely Fired Camera

I am of the opinion that no one wants to watch your wedding video and you probably don't want to watch your wedding video for at least ten years.  So with that said, make sure its in a future proof format. I would be hard-pressed to find a VCR now to play mine. So what will people watch - a minute version of your wedding, on YouTube. Like so:

So what you have here is a minute ten time-lapse of Shaun and Jessica's wedding.  It was shot with the following hardware:
  • Nikon D80 camera [$600]
  • Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens [$430]
  • CyberSync Wireless Remote Controls [$130]
  • Shutter Release Cable [$25]
  • Tripod [$375]
Software was Quicktime Pro.  Here's a nice silent video on how to get your images into movie form: LINK
Or for other software suggestions go to HERE [lifehacker.com]

You look at that list of equipment and say WHOA that's a lot of money just to make a little time-lapse video.  Well to be honest it is all overkill for what you are trying to produce.  That is just want I used because I'm a wedding photographer and I had all of that equipment with me at the wedding anyway.  The only special purchase was the $25 shutter release cable.  The CyberSyncs are what I use to trigger my lights during the formals. Same with the camera and lens - they're already pulling double duty during the wedding day.

Here's why the time-lapse above is not really just a time-lapse but rather a smart time-lapse.  Normally a time-lapse will take a picture every so often, usually 1 - 2 secs for an event with a short duration, like clouds rolling or a 30 minute wedding ceremony, to 1 every day if you are taking a picture of say a construction site.  Using the wedding scenario, it is possible that you could miss something important by having it dumbly fire every other second, while at the same time end up with lots of extra frames you don't really need. So here's where my smart time-lapse is cooler and better than dumb time-lapse.  During a ceremony I am waking around the main floor of the church with a camera and a 70-200mm VR lens. The problem I have as a solo shooter is that I can only point a camera in one direction at a time.  This remote camera set up allows me to get a wide angle shot and a telephoto shot at the same time.  The happy byproduct of this is a very nice time-lapse. Here's how I do it:

  1. The remote camera's clock is sync'd with the walking around camera's clock.
  2. I place the camera on a tripod someplace that it won't get bumped.  The camera cannot move or your movie will jump.
  3. The focus is set for where the couple will be standing and then put on manual. 
  4. The exposure is set for where the couple will be standing and then put on manual.
  5. The white balance is set for where the couple will be standing and then put on manual. 
  6. A Cybersync battery powered receiver is attached to the tripod and the shutter release cable attaches the receiver to the camera via the cameras shutter release port.
  7. The Cybersync reciever is on the same channel as the transmitter.
  8. Take a picture with the camera with the transmitter and boom - the remote camera fires too.
You are going to have as many time-lapse photos as you take during the ceremony which is a good and bad.  The more photos you have from the remote camera the more fluid your movie will look.  I have learned to hit the test button on the transmitter to add frames of important things that I don't need floor level coverage of.  A perfect example would be the wedding party walking down the aisle.  Not really wedding album material - but good for the video. So I hit the button every so often and add those frames in.  This also allows you to cut out most of the time sermon where there isn't so much action to have in the video. During much of the sermon there isn't a lot for me to photograph. So that's when I usually am able to sit down and delete duds.

Again, my original intent was to be able to get pictures from two angles while there is only one of me.  The happy byproduct is the time-lapse.

You should look for other applications of this where it would be cool to have two shot of two angles or two focal lengths and see what kind of time-lapse can result from it. I orginally stole this off the Strobist website about how to fire a remote camera using a pocket wizard.  Exact same principles just a little different equipment. [See Strobist Post]

All of this of course is the alternative to having a camera make a dumb time-lapse such Amy and Mike driving around in the back of a car:

Now that was shot an infrared modified Canon G10 with a cheapo eBay interval meter (G9 has this built in).  There is makes no sense to have to use smart time-lapse technology (can I patent that?)